Wednesday, June 27, 2018


I'm in trouble. It's my fault and I totally understand why, but it doesn't change the fact that I don't like being in trouble. But more about that later.

I've been anticipating getting into the high country for quite a while. Some years I manage it faster than others, and for whatever reason it seemed to take forever for me to get up there. I had a few places that I found via OnX Maps that needed looking into and a couple of old favorite spots to revisit. A meeting at work meant that i wouldn't get my typical early start so I packed enough stuff to stay the night, to make the drive worth it. After the meeting I made sure to check in with the wife and I called my Dad so he knew where to look if something kept me from getting back home. The drive was uneventful, just slow because of how anxious I was to get fishing. 

The first stop was to try a small stream that usually is running high and off-colored, but with this year's drought and virtually non-existent run-off, the water was in pretty good shape. It's not a stream with a lot of potential for big fish, just hoping that it would be a good option for me and the boys in the future. It didn't take long to find out that there were fish in the stream. Unfortunately the biting gnats found me at about the same time. I surrendered the stream to the bloodthirsty little pests and made a dash for the truck. 

The next spot took a little while to get to, over some pretty rough roads, so I wasn't surprised to find myself alone at a nice looking set of beaver ponds. There's always a question of whether or not spots like this hold fish, but this time the question was answered before I even cast when a fish rose across the pond. More fish were lying in wait just feet from my bank and a well placed cast brought the first brookie to hand. Definitely a longer fish than I was expecting, but his lack of girth seemed to fit the norm for this type of water. More casts brought more of these ridiculously beautiful fish to hand without too much effort. I decided to move on and check another wet spot on the map before too much of the day was spent. 

This spot was a little harder to get to. Not only was it a little rougher of a road, but there was a lot of optional turns that tried to throw me off the right road. After a short, somewhat swampy walk, the puddle that awaited me was less than fishy. Checked that one off the list, though it might come in handy if I'm ever hunting elk in this area...

The last spot was a small reservoir where I planned on spending the night and the majority of my fishing time. I decided to go all in and even break out my float tube that still hadn't been used, even though I'd owned it for over a year. I've taken it with me a few times with the intention of putting it on the water, but something always keeps me from using it. Either the people I'm with don't have one or I forget some key piece of equipment. That's what happened this time, I started pulling stuff out only to realize that I'd forgotten a pump. Not to be so easily deterred, I blew up the tube by mouth and finally put it to good use. Almost instantly it became evident that the small hole in my waders had gotten worse and instead of keeping me dry, they were acting more like a wetsuit. Too late to change it, so I stayed out on the water and spent the evening trying different flies. 

Picking a fly to use is always a bit of a challenge, but even more so on this water. There were giant flying ants (sz 8) on the water, beetles landing on me and my tube intermittently, callibaetis mayfly duns, a sporadic caddis hatch, damselflies zooming around, and lots of scuds and waterboatmen in the water. Smorgasbord. Only a few fish were surfacing though, so I tried out all the usual producing flies, Woolly Buggers, Callibaetis Nymphs, Simi-Seal Leeches, but didn't get anything but a half-hearted strike. Finally, I put on a Baby Damsel Nymph and picked up a rainbow that was missing a chunk of it's tail.

Thinking that maybe I had it figured out, I stuck with the Baby Damsel for as long as I could handle the cold water. As the light faded and a coyote sounded off from a little ways down the canyon I pulled my tube from the water and squished my way back up to the truck. A change of clothes had been a last minute addition to my packing pile, but one that I was really grateful for as I pulled off my soaking wet pants. Granola and Pepsi made for a pretty crappy dinner, but good enough to get me through the night. 

The sound of wind woke me up before the sun made its way over the hill. The idea of having to try and cast through a gale kept me from getting back on the water until the sun had warmed the cab of the truck and I realized that fishing in the wind was better than sleeping badly in the truck. 

The wind wasn't as bad as it had sounded as I strung up my rod. I decided these fish were probably just waiting for the damsels to start making their way towards shore and that in the meantime they might be interested in a chunk of meat. An olive Simi-Seal Leech with a brass cone-head sounded like a good idea, so I tied it on with a Non-Slip Loop Knot and started casting from shore (decided against the tube since I didn't have another change of clothes). I made my way down to the outlet and decided that this reservoir wasn't going to give anything up today, so I started making my way back to the truck. There were other lakes and reservoirs in the area that I could try before heading home. I had just decided where my next stop would be when a solid hit tied me into a heavy fish. 

He didn't like his breakfast! I was glad that the 8 weight was the rod in my hand as he peeled almost all of my line off. The backing had only come off the reel about 6" before he decided to change direction and I could make up some of the difference. Going into the backing is exciting, but once you've been there, done that, you realize that adding more distance between you and the fish (not to mention another knot that has to pass through the guides) and the that potential for slack is too much risk if you can avoid it. The fish brought the fight to the surface for a couple of jumps before I had him close enough to net. I braced myself for another run as I tried to slide him into the net but it never came. 

I'm glad that I hadn't realized just how big of a fish he was until I saw him in the bottom of the net. In a moment of weakness I considered taking him home for a good meal, but decided that I could go catch other fish for a meal. Beautiful, large fish like this are too good to be caught only once and I hoped to see him again, wether it was on my line or someone else's. He returned the favor by motoring full blast out of the shallows, completely drenching me. New personal best tiger trout, 24.25" long with a 13.5" girth. 

Decided that was a great way to end my time at this reservoir, especially considering how many other places I'd like to visit before heading for home. Dinner fish would have to be caught somewhere else and a perfect spot to try for that wasn't too far away. On the drive out I hit a random spot where I got service and received several text messages from my Wife, Son & Dad. It was quickly made clear to me that I hadn't let my wife know about the plan to stay overnight. Saying, "I'm sorry" can only do so much to make up for a sleepless night filled with worry, but I tried. Visions of horrible accidents were bad enough to make her physically ill and begin to contemplate what this would mean for her and my boys (she's a bit of a worry-er). 

Nothing that Del could've said or done hurt me as bad as the thought of her having to consider all the possibilities until in the early morning when she called my Dad to find out that I had just forgotten to let her know the plan. Regret and apologies don't make up for it, but changed behavior will hopefully avoid this ever happening again and that is the best apology I can think of. I'm grateful for a loving wife and family that cares enough to worry about me. 

Hope you're as lucky,

Saturday, June 23, 2018


My Dad recently purchased a boat from my brother that has been passed around the family for quite a while now. In his spare time, which he doesn't have a whole lot of because he pushes himself to work way too much; he's been fixing the boat up and trying to get it ready to do some fishing. Knowing that there's only so much he could do in the driveway, he was itching for a test run and he invited the boys and me to come along. 

Strawberry Reservoir is by no means a secret spot, but it's decently close to where Dad lives and is usually worth the effort. It's a long drive for us (kinda) but getting the boys out fishing with their Grandpa is worth an extra few miles. Timed it perfectly and met Dad and his wife Deb at the boat ramp where we tried to remember every last minute detail to have the boat ready. We did alright, considering how long its been, and got the boat off the trailer without a hitch (get it?....sorry). It was only then that we realized the battery didn't have enough of a charge to start the main motor and the trolling motor didn't seem to interested in helping us out either. The battery was brand new, but apparently Dad hadn't turned everything off after he checked it the night before. In between trying to get the trolling motor started we hooked one of the many chubs that were swimming under the dock.

After a hundred (or was it a thousand?) pulls on the rope the trolling motor finally came to life and we chanced it to get a little fishing in. Getting a sling blade out and hooked to the down-rigger brought back a lot of childhood memories and it didn't take long before Atley was running one on his own. Caden was more interested in taking a nap up in the bow of the boat. Driving the boat and watching my Dad and Atley trying to figure out how to hook fish was really fun. They managed a few, but missed many more. When my jokes and teasing went too far, my Dad insisted that I "show him how it's done". Luckily, I remembered pretty well and boated a decent kokanee salmon. Atley says trolling is his favorite way to fish now, I guess we'll have to do this again...

Hope you're as lucky,

He thought that if he made faces I wouldn't use the pics...

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Video: Tying the Chubby Ant

This is how to tie one of my favorite flies to use in a hopper dropper rig. The Chubby Ant is a quick tie that fish seem to love around here, hopefully it works well for you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Book Review:" The Trout Diaries - A year of fly-fishing in New Zealand" By Derek Grzelewski

The Trout Diaries
A year of fly-fishing in New Zealand

By Derek Grzelewski

A great way to torture yourself as you're waiting for spring is to read a book about fly-fishing a half-a-world away where fish bigger than your personal best are routinely caught. I was somewhat hesitant to start reading this book, worried that it would only worsen my wanderlust and move New Zealand up a bucket list that I really can't afford. Luckily, the read was worth the torture as the tales of fishing mecca were well written and intriguing. Surprisingly, my favorite chapter had little to do with fishing and was actually about the author losing a dog suddenly, and tragically. The hurt was real and Mr. Grzelewski conveyed his emotions about the loss and the torture of trying to replace the dog very well and in a very relatable way. This book should definitely be on your short-list of must reads.

"There was no other way to accept the loss, to stop clinging to what was, to let it go the way you watch a leaf floating downstream on the current and disappearing around the river bend." - pg 139

No, I'm not affiliated with this book in any way and I don't receive any compensation for recommending it. Just passing on the good word. Buy it on Amazon HERE

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Family Time

Anyone that's been hanging around here probably knows how much we like to involve family in our outdoor pursuits. With that in mind Delvonie and I decided a little family fishing trip was in order to a nearby reservoir complete with a picnic lunch. I have to be careful when we do trips like this because I can make it way too intense. Trying to keep things relaxed I let everyone sleep in and didn't rush to get loaded up. Del was a little frustrated with my apparent lack of motivation, but I knew that everyone would have a more enjoyable time if I wasn't too pushy. 

When we arrived at the reservoir the lack of people around the shoreline was a welcomed sight. Not that I mind when others are out enjoying our public lands, just that I enjoy them a lot more when I'm not in a crowd. We picked a good spot and started getting set-up. Del and I got straight to fishing while the boys elected to mess around the shore. Not wanting to complicate the fishing, I decided to throw a lure with my spinning rod while Del went with her standard Power Bait. I know some people look down on bait fishing, but Del likes to relax while fishing and using bait allows her to do that. 

The Jake's Spin-A-Lure brought the first fish to hand, a little rainbow, but Del's bait was definitely the hot ticket as she pulled in a couple of rainbows of her own. Catching a few got the kids interested so Atley got his pole out and, with a little help from Mom, got rigged up. The wind was pretty bad, but it wasn't cold so we kept fishing. Got a couple on a fly behind a casting bubble in between unhooking Del and Atley's fish. Caden wasn't having too much luck so I let him reel one of mine in. That got the skunk off and then he managed one on his own. The way Atley tells it, once he started catching up to Mom's number of fish caught we decided it was time to go (Del out-fished us all, as usual).

I talked Del into a stop on the way home to check on one of my favorite little streams. The water was low and clear with the fish definitely on their guard but I managed one really nice cutt before meeting back up with Del where she sat watching a little waterfall. Dapping a fly finally enticed a fish to eat after a few minutes and the big girl worked me over before I could get her to the net. Enough is enough and it was past time to go home, but it sure was nice to get out with the family. 

Hope you're as lucky,


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Video: Jeff's Bear Hunt

Here's a video I put together of my brother Jeff's first bear hunt! Let me know if you like it, and if you do feel free to like and subscribe over on YouTube where I'll be posting more videos like this.

Here's the link:

Hope you're as lucky,


Friday, June 8, 2018

School's Out

The end of the school year brings with it a lot of different emotions. On the one hand I'm really excited at the prospect of a few weeks off before the summer programs start, but on the other, I'm sad to see the seniors leave. Also, I hate the graduation ceremony. The dread of that night is the only thing that makes time continue to move as we near the last day of school.

All that aside, I knew where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing on my first day of break. I would've made it to the trailhead sooner if I would've been able to find my camera. Normally I would've just used my phone and went without the camera but I'm trying to learn from my mistakes (read that story Here). Still started my hike just after daybreak watching for elk up on the hill, but all I saw were a couple of deer that kicked up in front of me. In the past I've had a herd of elk watch me as I made this hike, I've also seen bears rooting along the hillside. Stories I like to pull out and rehash whenever I bring someone new here, even though I know how unimpressive those tales are.

This stream has the potential to be one of the best in the state but de-watering, fire runoff, chub and carp over-population seems to always hit the reset button just when you think the fishing's really going to take off. The fish I could see from a vantage point definitely had the chub-school look to it, but i still made a cast to confirm........trophy chub.

Moving downstream I decided to make a stop where I usually end my day, hoping to find a big fish to start. What I found were streamer-eating chubs and a couple of small browns. I didn't think chubs would be able to eat a size 6 woolly bugger, but when you're talking about trophy chubs you have to re-assess your expectations. I decided to back out to the trail and head downstream, then work my way back towards the truck throughout the day. 

The walk down always seems to be half as long as the hike back out. In the years that I've left this stream alone some of my favorite holes have turned into riffles and riffles have become pools. Subsequently, the fish aren't where I expect them to be but it keeps things interesting. A mixed bag of browns and chubs, all about the same size, seemed anxious to eat a size 12 prince nymph that I hung below a chubby ant. At the top end of the pool a little brown ate, I managed to make a good hookset and the little guy spooked the king of the pool. A stellar couple feet of brown (or at least it seemed like it) from next to the little guy, never to be seen again. But at least I know where he lives.

Giving up on seeing the big one again I moved up to the next hole where several fish seemed hungry, not only for the prince nymph but a few were coming up for the ant. Dry dropper where both options are being picked up is almost too much fun. I cast across the slick to a foamy back eddy and high sticked to avoid getting any drag. From the dark water a fish rose slowly and inhaled my ant from the top. Significantly bigger than anything I'd hooked so far, he dogged me deep in the run where he seemed to pick up enough steam that I couldn't keep him from running out the back of the pool. I tried to keep side pressure on him to get him out of the riffle and into the flat where netting him would be easier. A good look through the clear water showed why I was having trouble controlling this fish, the nymph had a good sized chub connected to it. Just as I was trying to lift the browns head across the bow of the net the 5x gave way and the fish disappeared into the next run with the chub in tow. 

I hate leaving hooks in fish, especially when its the last fly of a working pattern! I tried a similar fly without the white wing, but while the fish liked it, including a nice tiger, but I couldn't see the fly on the water because of the cloudy sky. So I switched it up to a stone flopper that I haven't thrown for quite a while and still had fish coming up for it, including a nice tiger trout.

The winds and clouds made fishing a little tougher, but it didn't rain at all. I tried out a couple of different droppers, but the prince seemed like it was all they wanted and the stone flopper kept bringing in a few too. The last good hole before I was re-fishing was another spot that I'd caught some good fish in the past so I took it slow, to leave no corner un-fished. On the edge of what I would consider the prime lie I hooked into what seemed like a good fish. This fish stayed in the pool until he was ready to come to the net and was thrilled with a solid cutthroat that was the biggest of the day (and splashed the camera before I could get a pic).

The rest of the day brought more fish to the net, but fewer as I re-fished some spots closer to the truck. The hike out wasn't as bad as it will be when the temps are higher, but it's obvious that I'm not in fishing shape. The only way to remedy that is more fishing. I can handle that.

Hope you're as lucky,

Sunday, June 3, 2018

More Turkey Time

With my tag filled (read about that here)it was a little easier to talk Weston into giving turkey hunting another shot. This time the plan was for his Wife and girls to hang out at our house while we hunted nearby. In addition to my neighbor's permission, I also had talked to a friend of mine at work who lives just up the road and reportedly had a flock of turkeys cutting through everyday.

Wes showed up in the afternoon so we walked up to where I got my turkey to try for a repeat. I should know by now that it never happens the same way twice, but you've got to try. There were a couple of guys working in the field adjacent to the spot and that put a hamper on the hunting. So we moved around where we could hunt, trying to locate a bird. A lot of walking and calling, but not really much to report. 

Before the birds headed for their roost we went to check out my friend's property. A short talk with my friend for the lay of the land and we made a game-plan for the next morning.

Early the next day we were set up overlooking a small stream and hoping the birds kept to their daily routine. In the next property there were some really curious horses that wanted to know what we were up to. It didn't take long before we spotted the turkeys working their way down the gully, but the horses stood between us and them. Our calls were ignored as the turkeys stole some feed from behind the horse's backs. When the horses realized their oats were being pilfered they chased the turkeys off, and away from us. It seemed like we were screwed, but played it slow and waited to see what would happen. Sure enough, the birds had just worked out and around the horses and crossed the fence about 100 yards from us. Unfortunately, they showed no interest in our calls or decoy. They worked their way further on to the property we could hunt and once all of them were out of sight we backed out and ran to try and get in front of them. Either we didn't go quite far enough or just picked a crappy spot to try and sneak closer to their route (depending on who you ask) but they busted us just before Wes would've had a great shot at a tom. A hail-mary run & gun attempt blew them off the property, but it was probably over anyway.

With the turkeys a little spooked and Weston's time running thin, we drove around trying to locate some more birds. We spotted a couple fo toms in the middle of an alfalfa field that weren't moving much. Once we confirmed that they weren't decoys (yes, it took a minute) we moved on since we didn't have permission on that land anyway. Driving around and looking at turkeys that you can't hunt is frustrating, but coming back and seeing two toms in the exact same spot you saw them a half-hour before is really frustrating. Frustrating enough for me to knock on the property owner's door. I tried to be polite and explain how it looked like the birds might be stuck in the fence, but he was pretty intent on being rude. Oh well, some people are just destined for hell.

We decided to head back to where I had shot my bird for the late-morning last ditch effort. This time, Weston wanted to just drive up the back road rather than walk in. Good news, we saw six turkeys from the truck all of which appeared to be males. Bad news, they were really close to the road and we weren't sure how receptive to our efforts they would be. We drove well past them, then snuck into position under the same tree that I had gotten my bird from and started to call. We got a response right away, which made it easier to be patient. The first turkeys that came into sight were two jakes feeding away from us. They were followed by a tom that really liked how our calls sounded. After gobbling and strutting he went all in and came running 100 yards across the meadow straight for us. If it wouldn't have been for the fence about 10 yards in front of us I'm convinced that he would've run all the way to our decoy. In order for us to shoot he needed to cross that fence but he couldn't seem to figure it out. Turkeys can fly, they just don't seem to like it. So this tom spent a few minutes trying to find a gap in the fence right in front of us. When he worked his way down the fence line and out of sight we were sure that he'd be back once he found a spot to get through.

Patience isn't our strong suit, but we did our best to wait him out. Once it seemed like all was lost we picked up our decoy and snuck down the road to try and see where he had gotten to. Weston then spotted the two jakes from earlier in the corner of the field trying to cross the fence. We set up kinda haphazardly and waited for the birds to figure out the crossing. We sat and watched them poking their heads through the fence, pacing back and forth, and looking really confused for an hour before they finally gave up and wandered off. We decided to follow their example and headed for home, ending Weston's hunt bird-less but we had definitely had a good time.

Hope you're as lucky,


Friday, June 1, 2018

Turkey Time

When we built our house the water didn't get hooked up until pretty late in the game, which meant that we couldn't get the plumbing fully checked. When we were finally able to turn on the water it sounded like we had a leak on the yard hydrant. Not an issue to work on in November or December so we let it go until Spring. To our plumber's credit, they got ahold of us letting us know that they'd be in the area and would like to stop by and fix it. Good guys. I had to leave work a little early to meet them and turn on the water to the hydrant. As they dug down to the leak (through all of our numerous rocks) I sat inside and tried to get some work done but the idea of chasing turkeys was ruining my motivation. The short rain hit pause on the hydrant repair, but it wasn't long before they had it all fixed and ready to roll.

When I went out to talk to them before they left they told me there was a turkey gobbling out behind our house. The conversation ended when he sounded off again. I grabbed my stuff and headed out the back door, in such a hurry that I forgot to put a belt on my hunting pants. Tried to find a spot where I could see and made some calls. Got some gobbles back, but it seemed like they wouldn't come any closer. So I texted my neighbor for permission to hunt on his property and they got back to me quick saying it's fine. So I backed out, walked around and set up in the shade of some scrub oak. Texted the wife, checked facebook, clucked, texted my brother, checked instagram, heard a gobble, called, almost fell asleep, called, gobble, called, gobble, there's a Jake, end of hunt. Just like that I had some meat for a couple of meals and a lot of feathers to play with at the vise. This may have to become a tradition.

Hope you're as lucky,